Another new week, another Mental Health Monday post. This week I received a text from my doctor’s surgery, checking on my wellbeing and reminding me of how I can re-refer myself to the service I have previously used for therapy. I am pleased my GP is remembering the mental health toll on their patients during lockdown and hope that others are doing the same.
Knowing where to turn when you feel like you need support can be scary. It can also be mind boggling about where you start. Hopefully in this post, I can help you find access to what you need. The initial step is the hardest, but I can promise you, that the relief you feel once you start opening up is like nothing you have ever felt before.
I have said it before and I will say it again – we are so very lucky to have the NHS and I am super grateful for all the care I have received from them over the years. Your GP may be your first point of contact with this one. Many are scared that a doctor will try and push medication on them and although some do, many are much more understanding these days.
I take antidepressants and I don’t mind admitting it. By the time I sought help I needed it and medication was able to raise me up to a point where I could start dealing with things. I am not going to talk about medication too much here as I think that would need it’s own separate post, but there are a few points I would like to make. Firstly, being on medication will not make you an emotionless robot, it won’t take the pain away, but it will help you start to deal with it. I think that medication should only ever be used n conjunction with talking therapies as that is where the real work begins and the magic happens. There are also multiple types of this medication which all work in slightly different ways. The first one you are prescribed may not work for you, or may have side effects that you don’t like. Don’t stop, stay in contact with your doctor and things can be changed, whether it be the dosage or moving you to an entirely different medication.
My GP gave me advice about how to self-refer for therapy in my area. It was really easy to do, I completed the form online but you can also do it by telephone. I know quite a lot of areas run this way now and I think that makes it so much easier. My first appointment consisted of a chat with a therapist where we identified problem areas and could chat about what kind of talking therapy would be best – yes there are many different types and you do not lay on a couch having to remember your entire childhood in explicit detail! I was told CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) was what they expected to help me and allocated a therapist from there.
The one big disadvantage of NHS therapy is the waiting time. Often people don’t know where to turn if they need some help sooner but there are other more options.
There are a whole range of mental health charities which offer support and help for people in the UK. I have selected a few to talk a little more about but the NHS website also has a list of mental health helplines you can access for help.
Mind support both people who are struggling with their mental health as well as those trying to help them. They offer a range of different services including an online community group, helplines and local support groups.
Mental Health UK point people from all four regions of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – to a support group in their country. This is really helpful as people can find information and help specific to them and where they live.
Young Minds provide help, information and support for children, young people and their parents. They help with guides, advice and can point you in the right direction if you require urgent help.
Rethink Mental Illness has over 200 mental health services in England for people struggling with mental health and those supporting them, including support groups, helplines, advocacy, housing, mental health training and much more.
Known for being there to help people in crisis, they also work to help prevent a crisis. You can call the Samaritans and talk to one of their trained listeners any time of the day or night, send an email, write a letter or download their app to track your mental health.
The BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) has a directory of accredited therapists which you can gain access to by prodding your location and your problem, for example anxiety. They then provide a list of therapists with information about their approach, interests and prices. Within 10 miles of my area there were 5 pages of therapists who deal with anxiety so there is plenty of choice, with a wide range of experiences and approaches as well as price.
By using the BACP website you will be sure you are getting a registered therapist who has gone through the appropriate training which is better than some random Google searches! Obviously this option comes with a financial cost but the waiting times are often much shorter and you will be able to select a therapist yourself.
Many workplaces now offer mental health support and you can speak to your boss about this. Having never been in a job with this provision, I don’t know a lot about it but you should have received information about it when you started about how you can access this.
I hope this post has been a help to you if you are looking for some support, or indeed if in future you want to refer back to it for an idea of where to turn. I have linked all the sites throughout, which you can see by clicking the green text and this should take you to the pages where you can find the support I have been talking about.
If you are struggling currently, especially with all the recent changes due to the Covid-19 outbreak, please do not feel alone – there are many places and people where you can look for help and my inbox is always open – firstname.lastname@example.org. Take care and keep safe,